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I am not a native English speaker, so forgive if I ask a trivial question for native English speakers.

When someone donates money for charity, is such a person called a donator or a contributor?

I thought contributing had to do with adding actual service/work to something (as opposed to supporting with money). But the generic (free) translator I use says the English translation for the Dutch word donateur (which has the connotation of donating money) is contributor.

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I would say "donor" not "donator". But then it may be the same meaning as "contributor". And, yes, a donor could be donating money. Or work. A contributor could be contributing money. Or work. – GEdgar Mar 31 '12 at 21:57
Thank you very much, in that case I think contributor is the best translation. In the Netherlands the word donor is only used for donating body parts after death. Languages are difficult if you look at nuance differences. Thanks for answering. – Michel Keijzers Mar 31 '12 at 22:01
@GEdgar, I don't recall ever seeing donor used of a person who contributes work. Can you cite any data or sources to the contrary? Typically, the word volunteer is used instead. – jwpat7 Mar 31 '12 at 23:11
Interesting. Here's "Donate Your Time" ... charity.lovetoknow.com/Donate_Your_Time ... Here's "donate expertise" ... aledalgrande.posterous.com/another-way-to-donate-expertise – GEdgar Mar 31 '12 at 23:44
An author who is a contributor to a publication may still be paid for his contributions. A donor is not paid. – Blessed Geek Apr 1 '12 at 4:35
up vote 3 down vote accepted

Either donor or contributor is suitable for someone who gives money to a charity, but a donation is generally understood to be a gift, whether of funds or some possession of value, whereas a contribution is anything that assists in the effort, including skills, knowledge, connections, or volunteer labor. (Donator is uncommon.)

As such, a donor is almost always one who has made a donation of funds or marketable goods and services, e.g. one donor gave 500 shares of stock, another gave 50 hours of accounting, another a brochure design worth $500. All of those people could also be called contributors, but that term could include people who volunteer their time or talent.

An organization may wish to thank its contributors as a more inclusive term, covering those who dedicate effort as well as money. In other cases, though, they may simply use contributor and contribution as direct synonyms to avoid donor and donation— I do detect a slight aversion in the U.S. to the latter, perhaps because we are subjected to so many appeals and are thus prone to charity exhaustion With our donation— sorry, gift or contribution— the museum, hospital, or university will rank us as a supporter, sponsor, benefactor, or patron.

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Thanks for your detailed answer, I think sponsor might even be a better solution for my 'quest for the best word', since I give as return of the gift the possibility of adding a weblink/name so this is more like sponsoring my program (and get a privilege in return). – Michel Keijzers Mar 31 '12 at 23:49

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